Self Portraits with Strangers
To overcome her social anxiety, Danikah Chartier makes intimate self-portraits with strangers in Central Park. She looks for people who appear to be truly present and are practicing creativity in some way. She will propose the project to them and if they enthusiastically consent Danikah will get to know them through conversation while she sets up her camera and backdrop. To begin, the partners will stare into each other's eyes for a few moments to create a synergy. They will then collaborate in a meditative experience to further emotionally bind them and to pose for the camera. Examples of ways in which Danikah and her partners have made themselves vulnerable include yoga, breath work, hair braiding, bird watching, hugging, etc.
Self Portraits with Strangers is a celebration of safety and agency as Danikah’s partners will be the ones to trigger the camera with a pressure release cable when they feel that the moment is right. This makes them just as much the photographer as they are the muse and makes Danikah just as much the muse as she is the photographer.
Self Portraits with Strangers is a body of work in conversation with screenwriter Celine Sciamma’s film Portrait of a Lady on Fire, artist Marina Abramovic’s performance The Artist is Present, curator Andrea Nelson’s exhibition The New Women Behind the Camera, author Bell Hook’s book All About Love, Photographer Alice Austen’s oeuvre, and Film Theorist Laura Mulvey’s essay Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.
Self Portraits with Strangers was exhibited at the Museum at FIT May 16th-28th 2023 as nine 8x8 framed inkjet prints.